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top wines of January 2014

Carmen

under six pounds

Ca' di Ponti, Catarratto 2012, Italy
Sicily is increasingly a source for really tasty, honest and straightforward wines at low prices (as well as more top end stuff of course). This handy and fresh white with only 12.0% abv offers abundant fresh, herb and apple scented aromas that instantly feels zippy and crisp. There's a running-water freshness in a wine that is light-bodied with dry apple fruit, but which has admirable clarity and easy drinkability. A fine house wine contender. £5.99, Great Grog Co., see all stockists on wine-searcher.

under a tenner

Château Bauduc, Bordeaux Blanc 2010, France
Having bought the vineyard and moved with his family from London to Bordeaux, Gavin Quinney has established a great reputation for his wines. This is the antithesis of the flamboyantly pungent Marlborough style, a Sauvignon Blanc with plenty of savoury aspects and restraint. There is a nuttiness and creaminess on the nose, not from oak but perhaps from a percentage of Semillon in the blend, but the fruit quality is pristine. On the palate it has a limpid weight with nicely rich texture, plenty of fruit with both citrus cut and hints of greater ripeness, but a terrific core of acidity that shimmers to the finish. Model stuff. 89/100. A recent 'Wine of the Week', watch this video review for more information. £9.95, but on offer at time of writing for £7.95, FromVineyardsDirect.com

under twenty

Jean Foillard, Morgon Côte du Py 2011, France
OK, the cheapest single bottle price I can see is a shade over £20, but there are various retailers selling by the 6 or 12 bottles which shade it just below. It is a stunning wine from a great vintage and one of the world's great wine estates: redolent of meat, game and earth, but not nearly as brutal as that sounds: this has abundant charm and beautiful fruit too, a wonderfully nuanced palate riven with tight, mineral, briary Gamay concentration and lovely balance. A superb wine for drinking now or cellaring for a decade. £20.75, AG Wines, see all stockists on wine-searcher.

sky's the limit

Champagne Drappier, Carte d'Or NV, France
Almost a Blanc des Noirs with just 10% of Chardonnay joining 75% Pinot Noir and 10% Meunier. A small proportion (5%) of the base wine is matured in barrel for a year and the dosage is a modest 7g/l. It has a pale lemony colour and plenty of small bubbles. Aromas are of flowers and elegant, light, lemony fruit, with a gentle background yeastiness. In the mouth this has real élan, with racy and crisp apple and sweet ripe pear, a lovely flourish of acidity cleansing and playing against those hints of toffee and brioche. Delicious, long and another favourite. 93/100. £44.80, Hedonism Wines, Cork & Cask, Henderson Wines, Aitken Wines, see all stockists on wine-searcher